, Volume 14, Issue 11, pp 3078-3089
Date: 16 Jun 2007

Short-Term and Long-Term Psychosocial Adjustment and Quality of Life in Women Undergoing Different Surgical Procedures for Breast Cancer



The various surgical procedures for early-stage breast cancer are equivalent in terms of survival. Therefore, other factors, such as the procedures’ effect on psychosocial adjustment and quality of life (QOL), take on great importance. The aim of the current study was to prospectively examine the short- and long-term effects of mastectomy with reconstruction, mastectomy without reconstruction, and breast conservation therapy on aspects of psychosocial adjustment and QOL in a sample of 258 women with breast cancer.


Participants completed questionnaires before surgery and then again 1, 6, 12, and 24 months after surgery. Questionnaires assessed depressive symptoms, anxiety, body image, sexual functioning, and QOL.


Adjustment patterns differed throughout the 2-year period after surgery. Some short-term changes in adjustment (less anxiety, less overall body satisfaction) were similar across surgery groups, whereas others (satisfaction with chest appearance, QOL in physical health domain) were higher for women who had breast conservation therapy. However, women who had mastectomy with reconstruction reported greater satisfaction with their abdominal area. During the long-term follow-up period (6 months to 2 years after surgery), women in all three groups experienced marked improvements in psychosocial adjustment (depressive symptoms, satisfaction with chest appearance, sexual functioning) and QOL in physical and mental health domains. In fact, the level for most variables returned to baseline levels or higher.


Overall, the general patterns of psychosocial adjustment and QOL are similar among the three surgery groups.